The American physicists Rainier Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish were honored for their leading roles to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.
Rainer Weiss will receive one half of the prize while Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will receive the other half.
Rainer Weiss, 85, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and Kip Thorne, 77, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena hatched plans for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in 1984. Barry Barish, a Caltech particle physicist, later guided the construction of the twin LIGO observatories in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana.
The 2016 prize went to three British-born researchers who applied the mathematical discipline of topology to help understand the workings of exotic matter such as superconductors and superfluids.
The existence of gravitational waves was predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein, who assumed they would be far too weak to ever detect.